Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: December 15, 2020

Documenting America's Path to Recovery by Ballotpedia

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Colorado (Democratic trifecta): Gov. Jared Polis (D) amended the state’s mask order to clarify that individuals must wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces, even if they are sitting down or standing in one place. Polis also clarified that individuals do not have to wear a mask if they are completely alone in a room.
  • Iowa (Republican trifecta): On Monday, Dec. 14, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the state would return $21 million in federal CARES Act funding after an audit revealed the money was not spent on the public health emergency. 
  • Mississippi (Republican trifecta): State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs announced hospitals have to postpone elective surgeries that require overnight hospitalization starting Dec. 15 through at least Dec. 23.

Lawsuits over state actions and policies

Read more: Lawsuits about state actions and policies in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

Overview:

  • To date, Ballotpedia has tracked 1,293 lawsuits in 50 states dealing in some way with the COVID-19 outbreak. Court orders have been issued, or settlements have been reached, in 396 of those lawsuits. 
    • Since Dec. 8, we have added seven lawsuits to our database. We have tracked no additional court orders and/or settlements. 

Details:

  • Michigan Association of Non-Public Schools v. Gordon: On Dec. 11, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a Statement of Interest in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan supporting a group of private schools suing Robert Gordon, the Director of Michigan’s Department of Health of Human Services. The Plaintiff schools seek to overturn Gordon’s restrictions on in-person instruction mandated in response to an uptick in statewide COVID-19 cases. In their complaint, the schools allege Michigan officials’ “closure of high schools does not advance the common good, does not advance public health, harms Michigan’s high school students, and prevents Plaintiffs from safely providing a religious education in accord with the United States Constitution and the Michigan Constitution.” Plaintiffs allege the closure of all Michigan high schools, public and private, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments and similar protections in Michigan’s constitution. In its Statement of Interest, the DOJ said, “The government may not make value judgments that treat religious reasons for gathering worse than nonreligious reasons for comparable gatherings.” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) representative responded to the DOJ’s intervention, stating, “Not only has the Trump administration made it clear that they won’t protect American families, front-line workers and small businesses from the spread of COVID-19, but they’re also fighting against leaders like those here in Michigan who are following the recommendations of health experts and working to eradicate COVID-19.” The case is assigned to Judge Paul Maloney, an appointee of George W. Bush (R).

State mask requirements

We last looked at face coverings in the Dec. 8 edition of the newsletter. Since then, Wyoming’s mask requirement became effective on Dec. 9. The order requires face-coverings in all businesses open to the public, on public transportation, at medical facilities (like hospitals, doctor’s offices, and veterinary clinics), and in non-federal government buildings.

Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia

Read more: Politicians, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with or quarantined due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020

  • Federal
    • One federal official has died of COVID-19.
    • Forty-four members of Congress have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • Forty-one federal officials have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • State
    • Six state-level incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • One hundred fifty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Eighty-three state-level incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.
  • Local
    • At least four local incumbents or candidates have died of COVID-19.
    • At least 33 local incumbents or candidates have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • At least 26 local incumbents or candidates have quarantined after possible exposure to COVID-19.

Since Dec. 8, one U.S. Representative, five state representatives, four state senators, and one city council member have tested positive for COVID-19. One state representative died from COVID-19 complications. One U.S. Representative announced he tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

Details:

  • On Dec. 9, Philadelphia City Councilmember Mark Squilla (D) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 9, New Hampshire state Rep. Dick Hinch (R) died from COVID-19 complications.
  • On Dec. 9, South Dakota state Sen. Helene Duhamel (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dece. 10, Arkansas state Rep. Carlton Wing (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 10, Indiana state Rep. Todd Huston (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 10, Pennsylvania state Sen. John Yudichak (I) announced he tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • On Dec. 10, Pennsylvania state Rep. Barry Jozwiak (R) announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 11, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Ca.) announced he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.
  • On Dec. 12, South Dakota state Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D) announced he had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 14, Florida state Sen. Wilton Simpson (R) announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Dec. 14, New Hampshire state Rep. Kimberley Rice (R) announced she tested positive for COVID-19.



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